Best hiking boots 2018: dominate walking, hiking, yomping and peak-bagging

T3 treads all over the best hiking boots

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Without doubt the most important item of outdoor gear you’ll ever own, the best hiking boots will keep you warm, comfortable and safe in the most demanding environments on the planet. 

However, it’s a partnership that can easily go wrong. Ill fitting boots will ruin your day and cripple you for weeks, while choosing the wrong pair for conditions can have even worse results.

That's why you need a pair of the best hiking boots available to man.

How to buy the best hiking boots

The perfect hiking boot should be luxuriously comfortable, unstintingly waterproof, heroically breathable, tank-like in its ruggedness, with grip like Spider-Man's socks. 

It’s essential to get the right rating for your boot – wearing B3 double-boots for summer trekking will be hell, as will attempting Indicator Wall in Converse. 

Overall, you’re looking for ankle support from a boot – which in the hills can be vital when a stone shifts underfoot – but also a comfortable fit. 

A snug (not tight) fit will minimise heel lift, as well as assorted blisters at ‘hot spots’. 

When seeking out winter boots (B1+) this is particularly important, as a loose fit will see your toes smash into the toe box when using crampons. 

The accepted wisdom is to try on boots in the afternoons, once your feet have expanded, and take a range of socks to try them with. Thin office socks are helpful to show up any obvious shape mismatches and pressure points, before moving on to your preferred walking sock. 

Construction-wise, old-school leather boots are rare beasts these days, not only because of cost but also because they need months of ‘breaking in’ to your feet before extended use. 

Modern boots use a range of synthetic materials in addition to leather panels, so are much softer out of the box. Indeed, the latest thermo-fitted models are pretty much ready to rock straight off the shop floor – although wearing round the house or to and from work is always a good idea before leaving on a major expedition!

In short, the golden rule is to buy what fits, and a model that suits your main use – there will be a boot that suits you perfectly out there.

If you're looking for something not quite as extreme as a hiking boot, we'd recommend you also check out T3's selection of the best walking shoes. Walking shoes are lighter and more comfortable than boots, but don't provide as much support.

Remember: treat your boots well – clean off muck and re-waterproof them sometimes – and they'll repay the favour. Chuck them, still dirty, in the bottom of the cupboard and they'll wreak their revenge on you. Consider yourself warned.

What is the best pair of hiking boots?

We are rather partial to Salomon's trekking footwear, and it scoops both titles. The best hiking boot is Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX for both men and women. Its epic mix of comfort, reassuring protection and even a little bit of style make it worth it's slightly more 'affordable premium' price.

The best hiking boots

1. Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX

Freshly updated version of the Land Rover Discovery of hiking boots

Specifications
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather & Synthetic
Sole Type: ContraGrip
Waterproof Technology: Gore-tex
Height: High Boot Cut
Weight: 1280g
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Good traction

France's Salomon is the Land Rover of premium quality yomping footwear, and the high-cut Quest 4D GTX has a fantastic set of features, making them ideal for backpackers and walkers of all kinds. 

What you get with the 3rd incarnation of the Gore-tex version of the Quest 4D is superb ankle support and gravity-defying traction, with a ContraGrip rubber sole that laughs in the face of mud and snow. 

The outer is sturdy as hell, though breathable, but the Quest 4D GTX is also surprisingly comfortable, thanks to a range of tricks gleaned from the best modern sneakers. Though designed specifically for weight-carrying backpackers, the Quest 4D 3 GTX is a cracking all-round shoe.

2. Tecnica Forge

The Rolls-Royce of hiking boots

Specifications
Upper Material: 1.8mm Nubuk leather with stretch fabric base
Sole Type: Vibram Forge Megagrip
Waterproof Technology: Gore-tex
Height: High Boot Cut
Weight: 595g per boot
Reasons to buy
+Bespoke, customisable fit+Rolls-Royce comfort+Looks great

The Tecnica Forge brings a little something special to the usual footwear mix - and won a coveted outdoor award for it. In short, the Tecnica Forge is a solid enough 3-season walking boot, but with ski-boot technology in the sole and heel area that is thermo-formed to your feet using heaters and huge inflatable bags. 

The result of that performance art is well worth the effort, being moulded precisely to your feet there are fewer hotspots than a comparable walking boot, and with a deeper heel pocket than normal there's little heel lift either. 

A wrap-around overlap cuff instead of traditional tongue also minimises potential chafing. Blister free walking with no breaking in faffery is here - and very welcome it is too. 

3. Salomon Quest Prime GTX

Best lightweight hiking boot

Reasons to buy
+Delicious comfort+Reassuring protection+Some style

As noted above, French brand Salomon is the King of Outdoor Clobber. 

It has a reputation for combining cutting edge tech with irresistible desirability and newsworthy new releases. It’s also known for impressively lightweight kit and the new Salomon Quest Prime GTX continues all those trends. 

At just 570g, this athletic backpacking boot, built-for-multi-day walking, is one of the lightest around. Made from waterproof split-suede, Gore-tex and leather, Salomon's Sensifit system and bonus cushioning in all the right places helps make the Quest Prime GTX deliciously comfortable. Rubber toe caps add protection for, obviously, your toes.

4. Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot

Best leather hiking boot for hiking

Specifications
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof Technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Mid Boot Cut
Weight: 1110g
Reasons to buy
+Ridiculously comfy+Waterproof
Reasons to avoid
-Not so good on rocky terrain

If you’re going on a long walk, comfort is, of course, a big concern. The Salomon boots and shoes above are hardly uncomfortable of course, but the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boot really pushes the boat out when it comes to keeping you hygge

The boot is incredibly soft with plenty of movement in the toes, but the leather outer is both striking in appearance and long-lasting in nature, but doesn’t take too long to break in

Although it's not ideal for rough and rocky terrain, the Renegade GTX is a great choice for clocking up miles across hills and dales.  

5. Keen Galleo Mid Boot

A great hiking boot for more mountainous terrain

Specifications
Best for: Rough Hill Walking
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Dual Compound Rubber
Waterproof Technology: Keen Dry
Height: Mid Boot Cut
Weight: 629g
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight+Cushion protection
Reasons to avoid
-Come up small 

If you are a keen hill climber, then the Keen Galleo (figaro, magnifico!), will serve you well. Its PU heel cushion and EVA foam foot bed make them good for comfort and shock-absorbing when going uphill; and the rubber toe protects the feet when walking downhill. 

If some of the classic Gore-Tex and Vibram soled boots are slightly out of your price range, this could be the best men’s hiking boot alternative for you, as the sole and waterproofing technologies are designed in-house by Keen, helping to shave a few quid off the price.  

6. AKU Alterra GTX

Best boot for more extreme conditions

Specifications
Upper Material: Suede and Fabric
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof Technology: Gore-Tex
Height: High Boot Cut
Weight: 1340g
Reasons to buy
+Snug fit+Lashings of lovely tech
Reasons to avoid
-May be overkill for most 'average' walkers

AKU's much-vaunted new Elica Natural Stride System comes in a new Alterra GTX boot and helps to disperse the pressure on your feet as you hike, so you don’t get achy points – such as heels and the balls of your feet – meaning you can walk in comfort for longer. 

An insole board and tread faithfully follow the anatomical shape of the sole of the foot and adapt to it for a natural heel and forefoot inclination, reducing impact and strain. 

The boot is designed for longer treks on more demanding terrain and a sock fit only adds to the comfort levels. These are also super rugged.

7. Merrell Capra Leather boots

Tackle tricky terrain with this rugged yet comfortable entry

Reasons to buy
+Great shock absorption+Stylish
Reasons to avoid
-A bit bulky 

With the Capra, Merrell may just have designed the most comfortable but rugged shoe yet.

Aimed at fastpacker types but actually a very versatile shoe, it boasts a UniFly air cushion in the heel that absorbs shock and keeps you stable.

Vibram MegaGrip keeps your feet on the ground, while a hoof-inspired (rather than inspired on the hoof) split-toe outsole helps you deal dextrously with steep and uneven terrain, and a leather Gore-Tex upper does everything you'd expect of it. 

They just look damn fine, and are suitable for scrambling and even trail running, especially in the low-cut option that's also available.

8. The North Face Men’s Verbera Backpacker GTX

A cheaper alternative for extreme hikers and backpackers that need stability

Specifications
Best for: Mountains
Upper Material: Nubuck Leather
Sole Type: Vibram
Waterproof Technology: Gore-Tex
Height: Mid Boot Cut
Weight: 1236g
RRP: £90
Reasons to buy
+Good in snowy conditions +Supports heavy backpacks
Reasons to avoid
-Might not last as long as other boots on this list-Heavy

When hiking up a mountain with a large backpack, you’ll want your shoes to be extra sturdy, and if the Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX boots are a little out of your price range then these boots have got you covered, and for half the price! 

The North Face Men’s Verbera Backpacker GTX boots are great for rocky terrain and light snowy conditions, with a sturdy but cushioned sole that eases the pressure when carrying a heavy backpack. 

Although these may not last as long as a more expensive boot, they are considered a proper mountain boot that will keep your feet comfortable and dry.  

  • If you're looking for something a little more lightweight, check out the best walking shoes